Survivorship is a well-established concept in the cancer care continuum with a focus on disease recurrence, quality of life, and the minimization of competing risks for mortality; however, survivorship has not been well studied in liver transplantation (LT). We investigated what survivorship means to LT patients and identified motivations and coping strategies for overcoming challenges after LT. A total of 20 in-depth home interviews were conducted among adults 3 to 6 months after LT. Interviews were conducted by trained qualitative research experts and coded and analyzed using an inductive approach. A majority of LT recipients (75%) identified themselves as survivors. Integral to the definition of survivorship was overcoming hardship (including experiences on the waiting list) and the unique experience of being given a “second chance” at life. Motivations to survive included a new chance at life (55%), family (40%), spirituality/faith (30%), and fear of rejection (15%). LT recipients and caregivers identified multiple strategies to cope with post-LT challenges, including relying on a large network of community, spiritual, and virtual support. These findings informed a conceptual model of LT survivorship based on socioecological theory, which identified the following variables influencing survivorship: (1) pretransplant experiences, (2) individual attributes and challenges, (3) interpersonal relationships with caregivers and other social support, (4) community relationships, and (5) large-scale factors including neighborhood and financial issues. LT recipients identified themselves as survivors, and post-LT identities were greatly influenced by pre-LT experiences. These perspectives informed an in-depth conceptual model of survivorship after transplantation. We identified sources of motivation and coping strategies used in LT recovery that could be targets of survivorship interventions aimed at improving post-LT outcomes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas